The most festive street in Urbana


Kim Harden, resident of Grant Place, shows off her decorated house from 2006, the first year her family participated in the Candlestick Lane tradition. 

By Annabeth Carlson

For Rich Barnett, the annual opening of Candlestick Lane means it is time to dress as Frosty the Snowman.

For Kim Harden, it means decorating her yard with the help of her children.

And for Kipp Bates, it means seeing his three-year-old son’s excitement when Grant Place is brightly illuminated by strings of colorful hues.

While Candlestick Lane means something different to each of its surrounding residents, they all agree it is a tradition they look forward to every year.

Candlestick Lane is a Christmas light display located on Grant Place, a street in Urbana. Since 1963, the residents of Grant Place have decorated their houses with lights for the community to enjoy throughout the Christmas season. According to Harden, Candlestick Lane will kick off its 54th year at the opening ceremony Saturday at 6 p.m.

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Each year, the streets are closed to cars, and the lighting marshal and torch bearers hold the opening ceremony.

Bates will take over this year for the first time as lighting marshal. He said his job is to start at the north end of the street and stop at the south end, leading children who touch lights at each house. When the children touch a light, it signifies to the homeowners that it is time to turn on their lights.

Bates said this year is his second Christmas living on Candlestick Lane with his wife and son. 

He said his favorite part of Candlestick Lane is the spirit of Christmas it spreads as well as the history of the tradition.

“We are extremely honored to be on this prestigious street,” Bates said.

Bates also said that having a three-year-old makes it even more special. 

Barnett, on the other hand, has lived on the street for 38 years and has dressed as Frosty the Snowman for the lighting ceremony almost every year.

“It’s something different on the lane, and it’s fun to see the kids this time of year,” Barnett said. “They have so much anticipation and excitement.”

Some of Barnett’s favorite memories include when the residents put batteries in the candles to save power in an energy crisis and meeting people from other parts of the country who come to see the lights.

He also recalls one year in the early 1980s when Candlestick Lane was vandalized and all of the neighbors came to together to fix it.

“As you get older, it gets tougher but it makes you appreciate (Candlestick Lane) even more,” he said.

The same goes for Harden, who is 52. She said she almost did not move to the street eight years ago because she was worried she could not set up all the decorations by herself; however, with the help of her children and their friends, they are able to get all the lights up in two eight-hour days, she said.

Harden’s experience on Candlestick Lane far extends the time she has lived on the street. She grew up in Tolono, Ill., and remembers that her dad brought her to see the lights every Christmas as a child.

“It is quite a spectacle to see it all happen … just marveling at the beauty and the work that goes into it,” Harden said.

Harden said people should attend because it is something to pay tribute to.

“Other areas of C-U have fancier lights but this is tradition … and the pulling together of a neighborhood,” she said.

Annabeth can be reached at [email protected].